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Consciousness

The Simple Reason I Choose Not To Be “Vegan”

What does it mean to be vegan? Why are we so concerned with identifying with something? I have chosen to not be ‘vegan’ for a very simple reason. This is a message I feel we should all consider.

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    One does not need to identify with the style in which they eat. When tapped into a state of Oneness consciousness, it's natural to be in harmony with all around us.

  • Reflect On:

    What does it mean to be vegan? Why are we so concerned with identifying with something? Why are some vegans so aggressive? Does this create an 'us vs. them' mentality?

I first started shifting my health and becoming more aware about what I am eating about 10 years ago now. It came because I would literally keel over and go into gas fits when I would eat bread from Subway. This was the start of me thinking about going vegetarian or vegan. To note, this piece was inspired by a friend who has a similar story.

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To be fair, this could have started because when I travelled across Canada and the US by car over a 2 month period I probably ate about 60 subs as I was eating 1 – 2 a day. My stomach was getting peppered with low quality bread that simply doesn’t digest well. Not only that but, I grew up eating a standard western Italian diet which included a lot of cheese, bread, pasta and meat.

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So I started to think to myself long and hard about my body, my diet and what was happening. It took an extreme event to really stop me in my tracks, but I began to realize I was having signs all over the place that something was wrong many years before.

My Obvious Health Problems

Before we continue let me be clear about something, I grew up eating a diet that would be considered pretty healthy in western standards. I rarely ate fast food, 90% of my meals were home cooked and my mom had a good sense of how to balance a meal in ways many would consider fabulous. Meat, a grain and veggies. Every meal had veggies. We ate things like pasta, chicken with broccoli and rice. All the veggies you could imagine. Lasagna, homemade burgers and other simple foods without a ton of processing. By far my, and our family’s worst habit, was having a Coca-Cola at dinner.

I share this because many people might feel I ended up the way I did, with digestive issues, because I ate a ton of junk my whole life. But I didn’t and that’s an important note. It’s also an important note that I didn’t have consistent and obvious problems with dairy or wheat my whole life, they slowly built up over time.

Firstly, I was gassy all the time. Not just farting, I was burping constantly. My burps came after every meal and would last for hours. To me this was normal, I saw so many people around me doing the exact same thing. Farting, burping, being bloated. I thought it was just a factor of eating. For a moment I thought I was gluten intolerant or something, but it was happening no matter what I ate.

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I also noticed I was getting tired a lot, but then again I thought it was normal. Coming home after school or work and wanting to have a quick nap. Again, I watched as everyone around me was doing the same thing so I thought this was normal too. After meals the fatigue would often kick in too as I made my way into my 20’s. Finally around 20 or 21, it was hitting a wall.

I would literally get bloated from dairy, meat, wheat, fruit, veggies, EVERYTHING. When I would eat things like dairy, meat or bread I definitely felt much worse, but everything was truly an issue. But again, as I would talk to people, other than when I had my burping fits and stomach pain from bread, everything seemed normal compared to what everyone else felt too.

I went 17 days without food to help clean up my past digestive issues. It worked.

Intuitively I Felt Something Wasn’t Right

Deep down I knew this couldn’t be right. Feeling this way, seeing everyone feel this way, it didn’t make sense. For me it took having these strong stomach pains and burping fits to finally do something, but for many, it’s still seen as normal.

So I decided to start cutting things out of my diet. Meat, dairy, bread, even things like legumes for a while. I mainly focused on a vegetarian diet. I ate eggs sometimes but not too often, and I also had fish maybe a couple times a month. Over the last 10 years, I have primarily eaten a diet people would call vegan. Today, I still eat a diet that doesn’t utilize animal products because I feel great and it resonates deeply with me.

When I was starting this journey, as time went on I began exploring the community of people that were vegan or vegetarian whether it be people you meet or people online sharing their experience. I started to realize something that didn’t resonate with me. There was a decent portion of people that called themselves vegans that were very angry, extreme and upset with people who weren’t vegan.

In the exact way many psychedelic drug users are constantly trying to convince everyone they need to take psychedelics, vegans are often trying to aggressively get the world to go vegan. And if you didn’t, look out.

The judgement, the anger, the hate.. I felt these people were harming themselves more with their feelings and emotions than people who ate meat from time to time. Then I thought about it even deeper. Who are we really? Are we what we eat? Meaning, are we really here to define ourselves by our dietary choices?

This is where I chose to not identify as vegan regardless of the fact that I don’t consume animal products.

Who You Truly Are

It wasn’t because I was trying to avoid being seen as vegan, but because I felt that label didn’t truly project who I was. I believe, like many other things, it creates more confusion, division and loyalty to others of ‘the same kind’ much like identifying with our cultures, traditions and countries we’re from can.

And this is a happening that’s taking place in a number of ways these days. Whether it be people identifying with being cannabis users, vegans, following diets like paleo, a sports team -anything really. It’s like an identity we build within ourselves as another layer of ego that I believe we take on for a number of reasons.

1. We want to feel better about our choices that we have doubt about, so we aggressively push them onto others or identify with them so as to not have to look at our own doubt. In essence, we aren’t coming from a place of peace within ourselves, we’re operating from the ego.

2. We are hiding from some other form of emotional challenges we have within ourselves. This seems most prominent in regular cannabis users and psychedelic users, but I feel it happens to people with food as well.

3. The ego is a tricky program. Once you step out of one box, the ego looks to quickly identify with another box. It wants an identity and way to express itself. This creates more suffering than we realize.

The Interesting Experience of Not Choosing To Identify

I’ve never been loud about the things I am attracted to per se. And it’s interesting what happens as a result of that. This isn’t something that just happens to me, I’m sure it happens all over, but I’m going to use myself as an example to illustrate the point.

People often assume I am a certain way because I founded Collective Evolution. Because I’m often not loud about my intuitive abilities or ET experiences they might think I’m simply a highly logical person or not spiritual. I don’t dress ‘spiritual’ or attend ceremonies or ‘spiritual’ like things and thus people think I’m not spiritual. I see this happening all the time and while I understand that it’s a journey of going through various identities for people, I want to share the message that true ‘spirituality’ isn’t something you have to prove to others. You don’t have to even call yourself spiritual!

We’re in a time where spirituality and consciousness are becoming trendy. And as a result, many people are experiencing spirituality through the mind. This is OK. I truly view this as a step on the journey, but again like before, I wish to share an authentic message for those that are ready to hear it. Truly ask yourself what it means to be “spiritual” or “conscious” in your own definition. Then determine how much of it is a surface level, mind based or external expression of something vs how much is truly about your relationship with yourself INSIDE.

I took this direction in this article because whether we identify ourselves by our diet or by the trendiness of spirituality, we are often doing the same thing. Boxing ourselves and our consciousness.

So if you are a person that feels authentic in who you are and yet people don’t understand you because you don’t ‘fit the mold’ of what they might feel is vegan, spiritual, conscious etc, great! Your authenticity is all that matters. Truly exploring the deepest aspects of consciousness and spiritual evolution comes without labels or having to be a certain way. This is a meme I believe will become VERY popular in the coming years.

If you want to explore yourself and aspects of consciousness deeper and authentically, you can take CE’s 5 Days Of You Challenge here.

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Consciousness

My Thoughts On “Spiritual Narcissism”

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Is this happening to many in spiritual trends?

  • Reflect On:

    There is authentic being, and then there is self-absorption which pretending to be authenticity, are we aware of the difference?

We humans often have a hard time finding middle ground. We may be drowning in lack of self-worth one moment, and trampling over other’s with our own self indulgence the next as we struggle to find balance. Narcissism is not simply about enjoying selfies in our social media-saturated world, it goes deeper than that.

It appears as liberation but is a trap that can ruin relationships, increase personal suffering, and keep a person from their true spiritual aspirations. Not surprisingly, increased mindfulness and compassion for this tricky human quirk is the best way to heal it.

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us, and it becomes increasingly dangerous when we confuse it with spirituality. In many ways it is easy to see that all of humanity is dealing with a certain degree of self-absorption while we desecrate forests and oceans, causing plants and animals to go extinct on our material quests. In his famous book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Chogyam Trungpa gave a good foundation for westerners to navigate the pitfalls of our materialistic abundance.

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The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us

We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us, differentiating the two is important. Sadly, we have spiritual philosophies and religions that have been constructed to feed the ego, inflate self-righteousness, and create division while giving justification for all manner of activities including killing, exploitation, and oppression. Ethical conduct, regardless of spirituality, requires honoring the other and the self as one with each deserving to be respected, heard, and seen with compassion.

No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

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There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us

Finding the Antidote to Self-absorption

Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Ego is an important aspect of our selves, it is part of self-preservation but when it becomes out of balance it actually has the ability to destroy us and harm relationships.

Many spiritual practices seek to increase our ability to witness and bring mindful awareness to ego drives which allow us to master, instead of being enslaved by our ego. When ego gets too big it can be hard to swallow, yet spiritual liberation invites us to expand our sense of self beyond the ego, beyond time and space.

The goal is to find a balance between the inner experience and the outer reality. How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac and hurting personal relationships? Meanwhile, self-loathing, and low self-esteem are also manifestations of ego out of balance. Selflessness can often be quite selfish, over-engagement can be as problematic as disengagement socially. Luckily we are here to find this balance through living fully, from making mistakes, and evolving our sense of self-awareness. Healthy self-awareness is the only antidote to self-absorption.

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How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac?

The Story of Narcissus and Echo

One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?”. She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn’t realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually recognized that his love could not be reciprocated and committed suicide. -Wikipedia

Since intention is subjective, a person is often understood within their community by their actions or image. This becomes extra tricky in our age of social media and the materialism that has found it’s way into yoga, meditation, and spirituality. It is possible to put on a good act, to fool those around us and ourselves (temporarily).

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Narcissus mesmerized by his own reflection

We can have the latest yoga clothes, read the right books and hang out with all the “cool” people, but if our actions are not grounded in a deeper spiritual practice, basic consideration for others, and respect, it is still hollow. A common analogy is the guy who everyone likes but then goes home kicks his dog, or is rude and unaccountable to his wife.

Deep spirituality makes us more sensitive to the feeling of others, encouraging an open stance of courage where we can drop our protective shields and accept the vulnerability to be seen as we are. Narcissistic sensitivity, however, is focused solely on the subtle nuances one’s own internality, and resists looking at hard, uncomfortable truths that may upset the self image. One who is narcissistically sensitive is easily offended by the “coarseness” of others, seeks to make his environment change to align with the contours of his needs, and gets angry or offended when this does not happen. -The Allure of Narcissistic Spirituality, Huffington Post

How to Identify Narcissistic Behavior

The ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it. It is not your job to diagnose others or tell them they are narcissistic if they are not interested in hearing it or healing it. However, if you draw appropriate boundaries for them you will protect yourself and encourage them to become more mindful. This is a loving and compassionate way to handle narcissism.

Alt text hereThe ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it

It is always healthy to make boundaries and speak your truth in a loving and compassionate way. Whether the narcissist hears it or not is out of your control. Common responses from narcissists will include belittling your feelings, a hollow apology without effort to modify behavior, or ignoring you altogether. Basically, they will use any excuse they can in order to not look at it, or to make the situation your fault. This is your cue to make appropriate boundaries for yourself.

Within yourself be open and receptive when others tell you that you have been inconsiderate of them. Accepting constructive feedback from loved ones is a great way to keep a balance between internal needs and external relationships. This is also how we grow as individuals.

Common traits of narcissism courtesy of BPD Central.

  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Alt text hereLearning to stop keeping all the love for ourselves

Evolving Unhealthy Patterns

Hopefully, this will help you navigate tough interpersonal relationships and also better yourself. It is a beautiful thing that psychology is allowing us to have terms to identify and evolve unhealthy patterns emotionally. As we learn to live in community, we learn many aspects of love. This is how we help ourselves and those around us grow!

I’m republishing,  for the CE audience, this piece I wrote for Uplift Connect.

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Consciousness

New Moon In Libra: Seeking Balance

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We are having a New Moon in Libra on October 16th throughout most of the world and in the morning of the 17th in the East. This is initiating a 29.5 day lunar cycle and new wave of energy for the coming month; however, the astrological configurations mentioned in this article will be more prominent over the following two weeks. This cycle will include a Full Moon in Taurus on October 31st/November 1st.

This New Moon occurs days after we have reached the halfway point of Mars’ retrograde in Aries which concludes mid-November. It is also days after Mercury began its retrograde which is currently in Scorpio and moving backwards into Libra before it moves forward again post November 3rd. Both of these planets being retrograde at the same time reflects a period of significant adjustments pertaining to how we express these planets, the signs they are in, and how they are configured to our individual astrological blueprints (natal chart).

Generally Mars retrogrades are a period in which the circumstances, developments, and our inner guidance is helping to facilitate a shift in how we apply ourselves and take action in specific areas of our lives. This is something that happens approximately every two years, which is less frequent and usually more significant than Mercury’s retrogrades. I wrote separate articles for each of them, you can read more about Mars Retrograde here and Mercury Retrograde here.

Libra season began on September 22nd/23rd, just over three weeks prior to this Lunation, and will end on October 22nd/23rd when Scorpio season begins. However, this New Moon (along with other planets) will still carry some of its Libra themes into the first week of Scorpio season prior to the Full Moon.

This is a good period of working with and co-creating with the energies of this sign. As an Air sign, Libra is socially and mentally oriented. Ruled by Venus, it is associated with relating, relationships, charm, harmony, compromising, art, creativity, and aesthetics. There is a big focus on others. Libra is also diplomatic as it seeks to find balance, equality, fairness, and common ground.

Negatively, Libra can be overly codependent, passive aggressive, superficial, insincere,  indecisive, vain, and judgemental. Although this sign is about politeness and harmony, retaliation can be triggered when imbalance and unfairness is perceived. Libra is also associated with people-pleasing which can have either positive or negative implications.

New Moon Aligned With Spica, In A Hard T-Square Pattern

This New Moon has an interesting mix of energies. It is tightly aligned with the fixed star Spica which is known to be the most benefic and fortunate star. However, it can be tricky to interpret how a star’s energy can manifest, especially in this case considering other astrological factors that are quite different.

Like Libra, Spica is connected to art and creativity, but also has spiritual, scientific, and inventive qualities. It is associated with harvest season and represents the ‘gifts of harvest’, both metaphorically and literally. However, it can also reflect unfruitfulness (depending on other variables) and injustice to innocence according to legendary astrologer Vivian Robson.

This New Moon is opposite Mars Retrograde in Aries which are both in a T-square with Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn in Capricorn. The Sun has been in an opposition with Mars in the week before this New Moon (peaking on the 13th/14th) which has been a significant part of the Mars retrograde process in influencing how we assert ourselves.

However, this energy is also configured into this New Moon and can play out as conflicts (internally or externally with others), impulsiveness, aggression, anger, competitiveness, or sexual tension. Mars in Aries wants to assert individuality, ego, personal needs, and self identity while the New Moon in Libra is looking for consideration, common ground, diplomacy, equality, and fairness.

This opposition in a square to Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn in Capricorn can reflect power struggles, obstacles, and issues pertaining to beliefs, opinions, and perspectives. Saturn has the most power as it is strongly placed in its home sign (ruling Jupiter and Pluto) as the Sun and Moon are also moving towards a square (strong on the 18th/19th) with it while separating from the aspects to the other planets in this configuration. This calls for a need to be realistic, cautious, practical, disciplined, structured, or orderly. The combination of this and all the retrograde energy can call for some sort of refinement.

Venus Opposing Neptune, Trine Planets In Capricorn, and Square The Lunar Nodes

The ruler of this New Moon, Venus, has been in Virgo in the previous two weeks and will be there until October 27th/28th. Venus ruled areas of values, love, relationships, friends, social life, pleasures, money, aesthetics, beauty, art, taste, sensuality, desires, and attractiveness can be expressed in ways that are practical, conscientious, discerning, picky, detailed, organized, analytical, health oriented, productive, efficient, adaptable, or fault finding/surfacing.

At the time of this New Moon, Venus is moving towards an opposition to Neptune and trine to Jupiter which have been in a sextile over the previous weeks. This energy is strong from October 18th-19th and can be good for creative or artistic efforts as well as social interactions that have spiritual, compassionate, broad, or philosophical themes. It can also reflect expansiveness, growth, morals, optimism, idealism, along with confusion, deception, escapism, and delusion affecting Venus areas of life (as mentioned in above paragraph).

Mars retrograde will also be in a square with Jupiter at that time which could also reflect conflicts around beliefs, opinions, and judgements. Excessiveness, overconfidence, and spreading ourselves out too much can also play out. Mercury retrograde will be moving towards an opposition to Uranus (peaks 19th/20th) which can make it harder to focus and can bring disruption, changes to plans, and perhaps communication problems.

Venus approaches a square to the Lunar Nodes on October 20th/21st. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to relationships and values. Venus is then in a trine with Pluto (October 21st/22nd) which can bring an empowering, deep, intense, or insightful energy to things associated with Venus. Following this, it moves to a trine with Saturn (October 24th/25th) which can have a committing, strengthening, supportive, responsible, practical, or stabilizing effect on these areas.

Making Intentions & Things To Consider

What can you do to improve how you relate with others? Is there a need to compromise, find common ground, or achieve fairness and equality? What has come up for you in the week leading up to this New Moon? Should you change the way you assert your needs or individuality? Are circumstances in your life pushing you to think differently about something? What can you learn from any obstacles that have been coming up in your life? Is there anything that needs to be restrained?

These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 7:31pm Universal Time on October 16th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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I’m currently doing a DISCOUNT with 20-30% off personal readings.  Gain more astrological insight into what is going on in your life and have a better understanding of your individual potentials. Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for the discounted rate.

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Consciousness

A Guided Meditation To Help Overcome Panic and Anxiety

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    2020 has been filled with more social isolation than most of us would ideally like, and anxiety and panic (among many other mental health challenges) are on the rise.

  • Reflect On:

    How well do you cope with anxiety when it strikes? How often do you meditate to help keep your mind at bay and in a healthy place?

2020 has certainly been quite the year for most of us. From outbreaks to lockdowns to tragedies it should come as no surprise that an increasing number of us find ourselves battling panic and anxiety -and unfortunately in many cases without the in-person support and love of other people.

As most of us prepare for what is likely to be a winter filled with more social isolation than we’d ideally like, I decided to put together a 17 minute guided meditation designed to help overcome both panic and anxiety.

As a former severe anxiety sufferer, I know just how crippling anxiety can be, and it’s often in situations where we are left to ourselves that it can be the most challenging to overcome.

This meditation takes you through a bit of an unconventional yet powerful visualization designed to equip you with a healthier mindset to help beat both panic and anxiety.

While the circumstances of 2020 so far may be less than ideal, when it comes to panic and anxiety I encourage you to look at it as an opportunity to truly master them. If you can find a way to prevent your mind from going down a rabbit hole of unhealthy thoughts amidst this chaos, think of how simple it will feel to accomplish once the world restores itself to some form of normalcy or at least less friction than what currently exists.

While this technique certainly is powerful, it’s definitely not the only thing that I had to equip myself with on my journey to becoming anxiety-free. If you’re ready to put the necessary work in to properly conquer your anxiety for good, I encourage you to check out my online course The Hack Anxiety Toolbox on Udemy. The course is filled with over 3 hours of on-demand video and 20 downloadable resources that all share everything I used to successfully conquer my own anxiety. Take the first lesson for free and get lifetime access to the course for only $12.99 USD ($82 off the regular price) by going to THIS LINK before November 14th, 2020.

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Collective Evolution is one of the world's fastest-growing conscious media and education companies providing news and tools to raise collective consciousness. Get inside access to Collective Evolution by becoming a member of CETV.

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